Research has found that the average person can spend approximately 90% of their time indoors with one-third of these hours at their place of work. Is it any wonder then that an individual’s physical or mental health is influenced by the aspects of the workplace?
If working conditions are not desirable, then the results could be lower work performance with increased error rates, injuries and employee absences. However, a well-designed workplace can provide the opposite results to these negative influences. It is seen that well-planned office refurbishment can have a positive impact on the physical effects of the workers and also the well-being of the workers.
Employee health is directly linked to staff productivity and, as we all know, employee productivity has a direct relation to the production bottom line. Taking this into account, it is in the corporation’s best interests to design the office space in a manner that improves the health of its staff. There are four primary areas whereby considerations could be made regarding the increase of staff well-being and mental health; these are discussed below.
1. The Social Relationships
The amount and type of personal space being provided to a member of staff within the office setting can promote or reduce social interaction among the employees. The physical layout with furnishings can have a significant impact on this level of personal space.
It is worthwhile taking into consideration various factors when designing the office layout, such as the employee’s ability to control their privacy. By allowing the staff to control their privacy, it is possible to eliminate the adverse effects of any other workplace stressors. Making office allocations mindful of the individual worker’s personal needs, particularly those with mental health needs, is particularly important for a balanced group/team interaction. It is, however, important to avoid overcrowding of the open plan area and creation of break areas where staff can relax.
2. Attention Focus
People can be easily distracted and can have problems staying focused on a single task. In these situations, it could be beneficial to consider enclosing offices or using open plan office designs with distraction reducing elements as an office design plan. For example, you could use sound masking or sound absorbing materials to mask distracting sounds during the work day.
3. Stress Reduction
Stress is an emotion almost every individual will experience to some extent at some point. A beneficial workplace feature to reduce feelings of stress and help people recover from anxious situations is windows. Research has shown that viewing natural settings, either through a window or in a picture, can reduce stress and anxiety dramatically. It is recommended that you consider placing staff who suffer from stress-related health problems or have stressful employment near windows; thereby, using natural deterrents to reduce stressful challenges.
Photobiology, also known as Seasonal Mood Disorder, refers to individuals who suffer from mood changes due to insufficient exposure to sunlight. By providing these people with an adequate amount of light, it is possible to increase their positive moods. Furthermore, there are other benefits for non-clinically diagnosed individuals helping them avoid pharmaceutical treatment.
If your office structure does not present with any windows and is absent of natural light, it is vital that you consider the type of light being used. Lighting is important in creating a comfortable and spacious environment. Therefore, it is necessary to consider natural and not artificial light. In addition to providing the staff with physical and mental health benefits, the use of natural daylight can minimise energy consumption ensuring optimum lighting conditions.
In summary, there is no question that the office design has an influence on the company staff. When designing the office, it is important to remember the contribution of the structure features on the individual’s physical and mental health.